What You Need to Know About Roof Trusses

Roof trusses, sometimes called A-frames, are large framing pieces that are manufactured in a factory and then shipped to a construction site, and used for the roof frame of a home or other building. These trusses are often left exposed so that a structure has a very open and airy look and feel.

If you're having a new home or other such structure built, note a few considerations to keep in mind about roof trusses so you can determine if these are the right choice for your construction plans, and so you know how to include trusses in your overall design.

Not all trusses offer a vaulted ceiling

A vaulted or cathedral ceiling means that there is no ceiling at the standard height above you, but the ceiling is open and exposed all the way to the second floor, or to an elevated height of your choosing. This is a common design for roof trusses, but not all trusses offer this option, as some trusses will be made with a floor that creates a ceiling overhead, set at a standard height.

If you do want a vaulted or cathedral ceiling, opt for what are called scissor trusses. As the name implies, the two sides of the truss create an open triangle, like sides of a pair of scissors, which then creates the open look under the truss.

Trusses can be slim

If you've ever seen an old log cabin or other aged structure with exposed roof trusses, you might note that those pieces are typically very large and thick. However, today's architects and structural engineers can more easily calculate the stress and weight put on residential roofs, and the wood density and strength needed to support a home, so that they can make trusses thinner than ever before. If you like the look of an open truss but are hesitant about having large beams overhead, consult with an architect or designer about thinner trusses that are still strong, but which are more visually attractive and fitting to your personal tastes.

Trusses may actually use less wood

If you're very eco-conscious, you might be concerned about the amount of wood used to construct your new home or other such building, and may assume that large trusses use more wood than a standard stick-built roof. In truth, trusses may mean less wood is used overall, since they're made in a factory under controlled conditions and to exacting standards. In turn, there is less wood trimmed and then wasted on a jobsite, making trusses a very eco-friendly choice overall.